Councillors Highly Commend Homelessness Strategy

18 October 2012

In May this year, more than 40 of the city's social and government agencies convened at a summit to begin a collaborative approach to address homelessness. Today, the Council's Strategy and Policy Committee unanimously endorsed Te Mahana: draft Strategy to End Homelessness in Wellington.

The strategy is the result of several months of talks by a steering group that was established at the summit. There was also a second component of talks to address the Māori perspective on homelessness, which underpins the strategy. Te Mahana is a concept of the warmth found in a supportive home environment, where people feel safe, included and respected.

The Council's Social Portfolio Leader, Councillor Stephanie Cook, says it was a great pleasure to introduce the paper at today's Strategy and Policy Committee.

"I'm especially pleased that we got cracking on the strategy immediately after the summit - so many great things were discussed that day and we've kept the momentum going," says Cr Cook.

The strategy is a collaboration between Wellington City Council and the agencies that attended the summit, including the Downtown Community Ministry, the Inner City Project, Capital & Coast District Health Board, Te Aro Health, Wellington Council of Social Services and Port Nicholson Block Settlement Trust.

Stephanie McIntyre, the Director of the Downtown Community Ministry, says this is a timely piece of work considering the number of homeless people in Wellington is increasing.

"Our resources are not growing to match those numbers, so we need to work together to do more with less.

"We have an opportunity here to show leadership nationwide - no other group or local authority has attempted something like this so far."

Cr Cook says the essence of the strategy is to find ways to stop people becoming homeless in the first place, deal with homeless people's needs quickly when they do arise, and stop them from becoming homeless again.

"Other cities sometimes take a very hard-line approach to homelessness, and we are proving to be more tolerant and understanding of the complex nature of homelessness. While we are practical about the issue, strategies like Te Mahana make me proud to be a Wellingtonian."

Now that the strategy has been endorsed by the Council, further work to get endorsement from other agencies will take place. Following that, Wellingtonians will have a chance to comment on a draft homelessness approach which will outline a series of actions for the city.